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Thunder report card: An ‘F' for starting halves; A ‘B' for defending Dirk Nowitzki

By Berry Tramel Published: May 21, 2011
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Starting halves: F

The Thunder didn't score on its first five possessions of the game and its first five possessions of the second half. Its second basket of the game, a Serge Ibaka putback, came with 4:34 left in the first quarter. Here's an idea: Scrap the pregame speech and play that Keira Knightley clip from “Pirates of the Caribbean” that the Thunder plays at home games to get them fired up.

Basket protection: D

In the first half, the Mavs made 16 2-pointers. Four were dunks, four were layups and two were alley-oops. And it wasn't like the Thunder was shutting down the 3-point line. The Thunder defense was better in the second half.

Defending Dirk: B

The numbers were awesome, holding Dirk Nowitzki to 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting and seven turnovers, including a first half of four points, 2-of-5 shooting and four turnovers. But if any of that success came at the expense of leaving the basket free, it wasn't worth it.

Handling fame: F

The Thunder bench's remarkable performance in Game 2 brought well-deserved recognition to James Harden, Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook. In Game 3, they combined for seven points, all from Harden, who didn't score the first 31 minutes of the game. Maynor didn't play in the second half.

Russell Westbrook: B

Westbrook was part of the slow start, but he heated up quickly. For a team void of offense, his numbers were of paramount value — 30 points, 8-of-20 shooting — despite just four assists to seven turnovers. Westbrook's play in the final three minutes hurt. He took a hurried 3-pointer with 2:54 left and the Thunder down 84-78, then lost the ball out of bounds with 2:02 remaining and the same score. But Westbrook overall played valiantly for someone under the kind of scrutiny he's faced.

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